11 nonprofits come together under one roof for new collaboration

Categories: Stories of Impact, BELONGING AND CULTURE: Building Support & Capacity,

Within a bucket of compost, there are hundreds of thousands of organisms performing work at a microscopic level, said Tracie Troxler, executive director of Sunshine Community Compost.

She said those microbes are the ones performing much of the composting work; staff are just working with them.

She also said that a new Resilience Incubator, a collaboration involving 11 area nonprofits in a shared office space, will bring together environmental advocates in a similar way to how the components of the natural world collaborate.

The new office space at the Suncoast Blood Bank held its ribbon cutting June 28.

"It's like a mirror of the ecosystem," Troxler said. "The more healthy the ecosystem is here, the more healthy the ecosystem is outdoors."

Home for ideas

A multi-organization collaboration itself has been behind the establishment of the collective.

Envisioned by Amber Whittle, executive director of Southface Sarasota, the Resilience Incubator is hosted at the SunCoast Blood Bank facility and supported by the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, The Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Joan Leonard, community liaison for SunCoast Blood Centers, described the space's ability to drive blood donations in the community as she spoke to attendees at the ribbon cutting.

She said it would also help save lives through environmental and veterans' causes, and add to "everything that we're doing to create this community as it grows by leaps and bounds."

Indeed, with nonprofits varying in their focus, plenty of diverse perspectives were on offer, while the space even contains room for additional nonprofits.

Veterans were one group that was well represented.

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay performs construction and building rehabilitation for low-income seniors and veterans. Brandy Canada, its senior director of operations, said there are numerous environmental considerations involved in its construction work.

"There's a lot of energy efficiency, and global stuff that ties into resiliency for the community, and then ... we piggyback off of that by doing the inner area, the neighborhoods, the families, the people that are growing up here," she said.

"We've been concerned about climate change for a long time, because it is a a national security risk," said Rich Scissors, a volunteer with Florida Veterans for Common Sense.

Scissors said some issues that affect the military are impacts to military bases due to sea level rise, natural disasters, mass migration due to the climate and poor operating conditions.

Jasmin Graham, president and CEO of Minorities in Shark Sciences, is also eager to bring another perspective — while helping to increase its presence in the scientific community overall.

"We bring that lens to this space of making sure that when we're thinking about protecting our environment, who are we protecting it for, who's involved, who gets to be part of those conversations?" Graham said. "I think that we bring that important aspect to this group, and so I'm really excited to see how we can weave our environmental justice with all of these other organizations' great work."

The expectation for the new space is that members of different organizations will have the chance to share ideas, both formally and informally, and even personnel and equipment.

"To be a part of this space is amazing; it's an amazing opportunity to have, especially for some of the younger folks here to be able to share their ideas and what they would like to see for the future," Canada said.

Members of individual organizations who previously were limited in their ability to collaborate in person, now have the ability to do so as well.

"We moved out of our houses and came here, so it's really great to not be working in my dining room," said Abbey Tyrna, executive director of Suncoast Waterkeeper.

Whittle said the space will also help provide training opportunities to the nonprofits, many of which are small and volunteer-driven, helping them to manage needs like events, fundraising and strategic planning.

Speaking to attendees at the ribbon cutting, Whittle described the experience of finally seeing the vision of the collaboration come to fruition.

"The resilience incubator will allow us to collaborate formally and informally, increase our impact on the community and learn from each other and from our partners," she said. "So from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you all for this journey, and for believing in me and our dream."